Rossland-Trail Midget Rep Tier 2 team went undefeated over the weekend as they skated to first place in the RTMHA Midget Rep tournament.
Backstopped by strong goaltending from Drake Poirer and a two-goal performance from Jarrett Conway, the Midget Reps beat the Merritt Centennial Reps 3-0 in Sunday’s final to clinch the title.
“We played well,” said coach Gary Gwillim, “The defensive side of our team is good, as you can see, we only let in two goals over four games, but we lack that sniper. It’s scoring by committee but the kids pull through and they just keep going and keep plugging away, and they (the goals) come.”
The Smokies carried the play but couldn’t beat Merritt goalie Kristian Stead until the final minute of the first period when James Booth walked in from the point, fired a snapshot, then buried his own rebound to put Trail up 1-0.
While Poirer was not tested often, he came up big when he needed to be, especially in the second period when a pass from the corner gave a Merritt forward a wide-open net but Poirer slid across and kicked out the pad for the huge stop.
Minutes later, with Merritt pressing, the Smokie goalie snatched a bullet from the slot to preserve the one-goal lead.
Then with Trail shorthanded and Merritt looking for the tie, Conway stole the puck from a Merritt defender at his own blue line, burst in all alone on Stead, and fired a low shot into the bottom corner to put Trail up by two at 12:06 of the second period.
Conway added an insurance marker with 5:25 to play in the third frame, jumping on a loose puck in the Merritt end and ripping a quick slap shot from the top of the circle past Stead, to seal the victory.
Merritt pressured the Smokies in the final minutes. With the goalie pulled and the Cents enjoying a brief six-on-three power play, a frantic goal-crease scramble ensued, but the Cents could not solve Poirer as the final buzzer sounded and the Trail Reps celebrated their victory.
In the round robin, the Smoke Eaters beat the Spokane U-16 Chiefs Friday night in a close 2-0 game, then won against a flat Missoula team 7-1, before taking out Kelowna 3-1 on Saturday.
Merritt also went undefeated in Pool ‘A’ beating Nelson 3-0, Winfield 7-2 and Spokane U-18, 4-2 to advance to the final.
The Rossland Trail Midget Reps play Salmon Arm this weekend at the Rossland Arena on Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday morning at 8:15 a.m.